How the beloved Boat Tram became a real boi

Pic by Adolfo Echeverry Photo for Market Street Railway

People can’t help but smile when they see the Boat Tram, one of the Market Street Railway’s most unique and beloved vehicles. Which is why there’s no better inanimate object to take on an entire online personality.

How timely, as the Boat Tram is back in business by Fleet Weekend for those marking their calendars, according to The Bold Italic. Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays look like your best chance of a sighting or a ride going forward, but like many celebrities, their whereabouts are vague.

In honor of its return, we’re bringing you storyteller Chris Arvin, the person behind Boat Tram’s online persona, AKA Boat Boi. Tune in to hear about how Chris married a keen interest in transit with the power of the internets to turn Boat Tram into a real boy. Er. Boi.

Chris told this story at our 2019 Muni Diaries Live, the last time we were all in the room together, footloose and covid-fancy-free.

A product designer who is passionate about cities and public transit, Chris sits on the SFMTA Citizen Advisory Council and speaks often and strongly in favor of transit-friendly policies and plans. You might also know Chris from the adorable pins, stickers, Clipper card covers they’ve designed at their store, transit.supply.

Listen to their story:

Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisarvinsf, and keep up with Boat Boi @boattramsf: by far the hippest social media presence of a transit vehicle, if you ask me. Here are some of the moments that Chris mentions in the podcast episode:

Though we did not, in fact, see you all in the spring for the next Muni Diaries Live, having Boat Boi on my jacket puts a spring in my step nonetheless.

We are always looking for stories of people who make San Francisco the beautiful city it is today, on and off the rails. If you have a story to share or someone to nominate, email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com.

The Buena Vista gets beautified with art from Muni Diaries alum

The Buena Vista is bringing their famed Irish coffees to Beach Street with its new outdoor dining space, featuring painting by local artists Deirdre Weinberg and Kurt Schwartzmann.

Both artists have been working on the panels at the cafe’s outdoor dining space since late July. Schwartzmann’s “love trees” paintings came from his current project, The Space Between Us Is Love. He says: “While we must maintain our distance from each other during this crisis, know that the distance that separates us is an expression of love that keeps us safe.”

Muni Diaries podcast listeners might recognize Schwartzmann from his story last year at Muni Diaries Live. At our live show, he shared the story of how he conquered his struggle with drug addiction and found his way as an artist. While he was unhoused, Muni became a refuge for Schwartzmann, who has lost sight in one eye due to complications from AIDS.

We’re looking forward to returning to The Buena Vista and watching the bartender line up glass after glass of Irish coffee at the bar. Meanwhile, enjoy the spiked coffee in their outdoor space, surrounded by paintings by two artists who truly embody the San Francisco spirit.

San Francisco Diaries: Discovering The Secret Alley

“I hear the door swing open, I take off my headphones, and all of a sudden I hear, ‘This is why I love San Francisco!’ ‘OMG, this makes me so happy!’ It never gets old, and it sends shivers up my spine.”

Who actually hears things like this about their office (home or regular)? It’s par for the course when you work at The Secret Alley, which Thrillist once described (accurately) as ” a private artist workshop-cum-performance space-cum-office park-cum-clubhouse o’ fun built inside of a second-floor walk-up in the Mission.”

We’re ever so glad to take a break from pandemic stories to listen to how this special place came to be. In today’s podcast episode, we learn about how The Secret Alley made a space in a nondescript building into such a unique community hotspot.

Secret Alley cofounder Noel Von Joo shared his tale on stage at Muni Diaries Live in 2019. Listen to his story here:

It might be a while before we can return to this wonderful space, where our friends at BFF.fm and Roll Over Easy also broadcast their shows. But we are going back to our roots, collecting and publishing stories for the ol’ internets about the people and places that make our city what it is today. If you have a story to share, please email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. And it would absolutely make our entire day if you review us on Apple Podcasts and shared this podcast with your friends.

A new anthem for Muni riders

Remember those days when our biggest problem was getting this oversized dresser out of the train at Civic Center Station, or figuring out the best angle to film a wriggling dildo stuck in a bus stop? We miss those days, too. Today, we celebrate the 100th episode of the Muni Diaries podcast, featuring a hilariously NSFW ode to being considerate to fellow humans on the bus.

This episode features songwriter Jefferson Bergey, a professional musician based in Oakland and a regular performer at Bawdy Storytelling. He wrote a new song called “Give Up Your Seat” just for Muni Diaries, and even added a sexy love song about BART as a bonus to this episode. We highly recommend you put on those headphones (or blast it at full volume!) to add some levity to your day—especially now that “NSFW” is mostly “Are your kids in the room?”

Listen to our 100th episode:

While many of us haven’t been on a bus lately, we will continue to bring you stories from everyday San Franciscans. Nothing says “we’re in it together” more than that collective shout of, “Back door!” forever burned into our brains and hearts.

Send your stories to muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com, or tag us @munidiaries on FacebookTwitterInstagram.

Photo by Amanda Roosa.

Predicted time for Muni Diaries Live is a little longer than we thought

Aw man. We’re sad to say that we’re postponing Muni Diaries Live, scheduled for April 4. We don’t have a new date in mind yet, but we’ll be watching the advisories closely to make sure we’ve cleared any danger zones.  As battle-hardened as we all feel by riding public transit in San Francisco, a pandemic is something else entirely. We’ll announce our new date as soon as we can, whenever we can safely celebrate life in this weird, wonderful city over anxiety-free drinks and stories.

Originally:

Twice a year we celebrate the surprising stories that happen between strangers on Muni and BART, and we are returning to Rickshaw Stop on April 4th to celebrate 12 years of documenting commuter life in San Francisco. Tickets to Muni Diaries Live are on sale now, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Our stellar lineup:

Dushka Zapata is a Quora superstar and author of Amateur: An Inexpert, Inexperienced, Unauthoritative, Enamored View of Life and Love Yourself and Other Insurgent Acts That Recast Everything, and more. Having worked in the communications industry for more than 20 years, she helps companies and people put into simple terms who they are, what they do, and where to go next.

Becca Henry is San Francisco born, raised by wolves, and got her start on stage performing comedic burlesque before buying new bras and making her way into standup. Known for her distinctive voice and commanding presence, Becca brings her brand of fierce, awkward humor and tales of personal chaos to take audiences through her debased thoughts, unique perspectives and impressive range of octaves.

Lia Smith has been published in Ms.Seventeen, and literary magazines Bamboo Ridge and Other Voices. She’s been riding Muni since she first arrived in San Francisco at age seven. She is currently collaborating with her artist husband, Keith Ferris, on an art book about Muni, a collection of portraits and interviews of operators and drawings of passengers. Muni has always been a lifeline for her: No matter how long or inconvenient the wait, once the bus arrives, all my cares drop away.

Rachel Swan covers transportation for the San Francisco Chronicle. She was born in Berkeley and grew up riding BART, Muni, and AC Transit. Now she takes mass transit with her two daughters.

Jesús U. BettaWork is a local comedian who has performed throughout the Bay Area and beyond. He hosts the “You Betta Work Comedy ¡Fiesta!” at the San Mateo County Pride Center every third Friday.

Wonder Dave is a writer, comedian and performer from Minneapolis, MN, now living in California. He has toured the country performing at poetry venues, schools, cabarets, science fiction conventions, burlesque shows, bowling alleys, and independent wrestling shows. He has been a featured storyteller on the Risk podcast. Dave’s poetry has been published in anthologies by Write Bloody, Lethe Press, and Sibling Rivalry Press.

Grab a ticket today and see you at the show!

Muni Diaries Live

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Doors: 5:30 p.m. Show: 6:30 p.m.

The Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell Street, San Francisco

Take Muni there: 21, 47, 49, F, J, K, L, M, N, T. Or take BART: Civic Center Station.

Special thanks to Secession Art and Design for generously sharing their wonderful Bernal store space for our show rehearsal. Photo by Right Angle Images.

Of ‘ladyspreading’ and leggings on BART with Annette Mullaney

Storyteller Annette Mullaney is a standup comic based in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle named her one of six “comics to catch” in the Bay Area. She describes her comedy as self-deprecating, feminist, existentialist, smart, vulgar, and full of big words to prove she’s been to grad school (fair, I’d do it, too). In this episode, she shares an emotional rollercoaster of a BART story that took a long time to see the light of day. But we’re so glad she worked up the courage to share.

This recording is from Muni Diaries Live in November 2019, when Annette regaled the crowd with this tale. We promise you’ll never think of feminism, laundry day, or leggings the same way. Here’s Annette:

Photo by Amanda Roosa

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